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Up to 49 subs' jobs set to go in Midlands

Up to 49 jobs are under threat after Johnston Press announced plans to restructure editorial departments in its Midlands divisions.

The proposals involve the creation of three centralised subbing operations to be based in Northampton, Peterborough and Milton Keynes.

  • Central Counties Newspapers North – Sub-editors in Banbury, Rugby, Daventry and Leamington would move to Northampton.
  • Lincolnshire Newspapers and Anglia Newspapers – All subbing from these two divisions will be provided from Peterborough.
  • Central Counties Newspapers South – Staff in Buckingham, Aylesbury and Hemel Hempstead would be working from Milton Keynes.
  • Affected titles include Leamington Spa Courier, Banbury Guardian, Boston Standard, Rugby Advertiser and Suffolk Free Press.

    Leamington Spa is approximately 35 miles from Northampton while Hemel Hempstead is just over 30 miles Milton Keynes.

    All centres are expected to retain locally-based reporting staff and heads of content.

    A Johnston Press statement said: “In the event that the proposals go ahead, we anticipate there will be up to 49 potential redundancies which we will endeavour to minimise through voluntary severance and redeployment.

    Midlands Division MD Nick Mills said: “Our objective is always to ensure that our newspapers and websites remain at the heart of their communities.

    “The proposed changes will ensure the efficient continued delivery of high quality, local content across our many news delivery channels.”

    The staff consultation is due to finish by 6 March.


    Subbed out (19/01/2009 09:29:29)
    Some of the affected newspapers are 60-70 miles from Peterborough. Deputy editors and sports editors are also among those affected. Reporters are to be renamed ‘content gatherers’.
    How can newspapers and websites remain ‘at the heart of their communities’ when they’ll be subbed by people who could not care less about Sudbury, Bury St Edmunds, Newmarket, Thetford, Diss, King’s Lynn or any of the numerous towns, villages and communities the many titles they sub cover?

    Hacked Off (19/01/2009 09:49:23)
    Spot on. RIP local newspapers.

    John Baptist (19/01/2009 09:54:35)
    Matthew 10:36

    Roy Challis (19/01/2009 10:13:22)
    I’d have a lot more respect for people like Nick Mills if they were simply honest about their motives for doing these things – ie maximising profits in a struggling economy – rather than daring to suggest they’re being done in the interests of “news delivery content blah platform blah blah quality delivery bleeeeuuuuuurrrrrgggghhhhh….”. It’s an insult.

    Batman (19/01/2009 10:37:13)
    “All centres are expected to retain locally-based reporting staff and heads of content…”
    How long do you think that’s going to last..?

    ellie hunt (19/01/2009 10:42:12)
    Roy Challis is spot on. No way can these sort of changes improve local papers. The bosses know this (anyone with half a brain would know it) but they continue to dish out this rubbish about keeping it local.
    The person who looks after our paper has no idea of our patch and lives well outside it. This person many miles away has absolutely no idea what makes our patch tick, which is VITAL to a local paper.
    The number of errors in local papers is increasing- there is no thorough in-house checking as there used to be.
    It’s no-one’s fault in the current climate. But bosses- please be honest and don’t patronise hard-working staff by pretending it is improving papers. It can’t and it ain’t.

    Content placer (19/01/2009 10:42:50)
    Newspapers are not the place for journalists anymore. They are just a ‘product’ now, led by businessmen so far up the food chain they can’t see ground anymore – and don’t want to anyway.
    Subs will now be miles away from reporters, unable to shout over to the other side of the room to check on angles of stories and chat about headlines. It will be more phone calls and more emails – yet more faceless journalism ruining our profession.
    ‘Content gatherers’? ‘Heads of content’?!!! What shall reporters say when they ring up a new contact? “Oh hello person of possible information, I’m calling from your local advertising product about a content piece. I’m a content gatherer, you see.” Absolutely pathetic.

    Peter, a JP sub (19/01/2009 11:07:20)
    For the heathens among us… Matthew 10:36 : ‘A person’s enemies will include members of his own family.’

    Gold dust (19/01/2009 11:10:28)
    I work for an independent publisher as editor. I sit across the desk from my reporters / photographer / sport editor and the sales and production team are in the room next to me.
    We all talk and discuss many facets of that particular week’s issue from headlines to advert placement, easily and efficiently without the need for board meetings etc etc. Crucially, we are all based in the town where this title is sold.
    We are currently stealing a march on our larger, better funded competitor purely because of our community-based reporting and community focus.
    Large regionals are pulling up the drawbridge on communities but that’s their problem, they won’t survive.
    My advice is to get back to basics, serve your immediate community the best you can with a team that cares about local issues and naturally a successful, future proof newspaper will be the result. It’s not rocket science.

    mark adams (19/01/2009 11:14:28)
    Is it accountants or sometime journalists who are re-inventing the role and even the name of journalists? If it is the latter they should all line up to have their proficiency certificates burned on a sacrificial bonfire. Of course papers have to adapt to plummeting advertising revenues and competition from other media (internet, TV, radio.) There are no easy answers, which is no reason why newspaper professionals shouldn’t sit down to formulate smart, rather than witless, solutions. As for all those currently studying for their NCTJ qualifications – who would want to be a content gather in these desparate times?

    bowdlerized (19/01/2009 11:21:04)
    Interesting to note that board members in Edinburgh have just got hold of Johnston Press shares at ultra-cheap prices. So, not only have they (particularly Tim Bowdler) bought this company to its knees by racking up huge, unserviceable debts, and are trying to pay for it by slashing the jobs of people who have worked so hard and loyally for peanuts for so many years, but now are seeking to (and will) cash in on a rising share price when these cash-saving measures take effect.

    Fox Mulder (19/01/2009 11:55:50)
    I’m not supporting other companies’ stances about centralisation, but Trinity Mirror and Newsquest etc have all made these kinds of moves with the support of new technology (content management systems). JP has only just started to trial theres and probably won’t have one until the back end of this year. So if you get a job in these new subbing units now you’ll probably be condemned to lower wages, worse pension terms, longer hours and the spectre of yet more job losses later in the year when the new ‘more efficient’ CMS comes in. If they don’t get you now, they’ll get you later!
    Still… mustn’t grumble…!

    Hot Metal (19/01/2009 12:25:41)
    Profits up, standards down… that’s the way it looks from here

    regionalhack (19/01/2009 12:42:43)
    Archant got rid of some subs a year ago – see HTFP story
    Former Archant boss John Fry has just taken over as MD of Johnston Press. What a strange coincidence . . .

    boo (19/01/2009 13:04:07)
    “staff consultation”
    Yeah, right.

    Sub (19/01/2009 13:18:51)
    You can’t sub a local newspaper story properly from a town you’ve never been to. I wonder how many of the people involved in this decision actually know how the editorial process works. Johnston Press don’t seem to care about the quality of their products, the communities they fail to serve properly or their staff.

    JP sub (19/01/2009 13:19:27)
    “Our obje
    ctive is always to ensure that our newspapers and websites remain at the heart of their communities.”
    And moving people away from the towns they serve will do this how??
    These guys are killing the papers due to their devastating lack of knowledge as to how local news and sport needs to operate.
    Johnston Press is still making large profits, yet they feel the need to destroy the lives of their employees by needlessly laying valuable staff off.
    They’re idiots, with an interest only in making profits rather than a good product. What happened to the value of ‘news’ in the word ‘newspapers’.

    P45 (19/01/2009 14:18:54)
    Johnson Press is going to be lucky to survive with its quite incredible debt burden.
    Its only hope is someone buying it if media ownership regs are relaxed as is expected.
    The shares were less than 10p last time I looked.

    Subbed out (19/01/2009 14:53:53)
    Have just had an ‘initial consultation’ on the proposal. No info on timescales or redundancy package. Poor, poor execution of a life-changing proposal by JP.
    And we only have until next Wednesday to apply for a new role or voluntary reduancy!
    Some affected staff at other offices have not even been officially told yet. But then, did we really expect more from our illustrious employer?

    Raj (19/01/2009 14:58:24)
    We will edit most of your newspapers here in Kerala. We are cheap cheap and educated

    lil sub (19/01/2009 15:17:57)
    Why dont they just out sauce it like they did at the Telegraph.

    paperboy (19/01/2009 15:26:05)
    Ive worked on a CCN title, and those working on it ie the tired burnt out conceited seniors who have shyed away from the graft of producing content with apathetic boredom will be the ones who are hit. So if thats the case, the product can only get better if the flabby fat is cut away through centralisation, Surely.

    scabber jeans (20/01/2009 09:46:06)
    These moves will not save money for Johnston Press, only cost in the long run.
    Why centralise if there are not to be further drastic changes to the structure of the business?
    This sham of a consultation has been extremely poorly handled and will have unsettled many more than those it affects directly.

    ken (20/01/2009 09:50:49)
    Subbed out raises the valid point about long distance subbing by subs with no local knowledge. How right he is.
    But JP look like taking this one step further in Yorkshire.
    There seems to be aplan to outsource the subbing operations of the Yorkshire Post and Ecening Post to PA at Howden…with some of the pages sent to India for subbing.
    How local is that?
    Well done JP…another nail in the coffin of local newspapers. Remeber, not everyone has a computer.

    richard meredith (20/01/2009 10:41:17)
    JP’s decision to take a scythe through the subs is nothing less than management driven by blind panic into saving money no matter what the cost. The day when there is no competent oversight of submitted material – and even moreso from non-staffers – will surely be the day when all good journos pack up and go home. Have they forgotten Jonathon Ross already? Even the most self-opinionated of reporters will admit another pair of eyes can often find, improve or question, things the writer didn’t see. But then again, maybe we can all spot which way this is going … the ‘content gatherer’ finds the story, takes the pic, uploads them straight onto a pre-plan and hey presto it’s all ready to print. Welcome to the all-singing, all-dancing, one-man-band, super-economic news machine!

    Unhappy Hack (20/01/2009 11:47:52)
    Subs are desperately needed! I know people are writing in haste and with passion here, but “out sauce”… “shyed away”… “Jonathon Ross”… give me strength!

    Chris Breese (20/01/2009 12:09:58)
    “The proposed changes will ensure the efficient continued delivery of high quality, local content across our many news delivery channels.”
    Er, no they won’t. They will effectively deliver the death of several local newspapers as we know them.
    How can you propose to axe quality local-based staff and in the same breath say it is to ensure quality?
    As a former Melton Times reporter, it’s not the changes which are the most troubling, but the language used to announce them.

    Sub human (20/01/2009 13:27:14)
    As I understand it, in my part of the JP world, the jobs involved won’t just be subs. Everyone’s been invited to apply for a new post. The centralised subbing move has created the opportunity for a wholescale re-organisation of the editorial function. They’re looking to lose “headcount” from across editorial.

    Dave (21/01/2009 17:06:53)
    Perhaps JP should be employing insightful journalists like this clown: